THE final day of the jumps season and Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) shares his best bets with us.
14:55 Sandown | Channel 4
The Bet 365 Oaksey Chase over 2 miles 7 furlongs sees a field of seven line up and Paul Nichols and Willie Mullins are responsible for five of the runners here as both try and win every penny available in the run in to the Trainers Championship.
Willie Mullins is responsible for the favourite here in the form of Valseur Lido who is a shade of odds on. He was runner up to Vautour in the Ryanair Chase last time out and has the best form on offer this season.
He is yet to win this term however he would have gone close in the Irish Gold Cup but for falling at the last. He should win here, but he had a tough race at Cheltenham and this trip is shorter than ideal for him. There are question marks about his jumping and despite the positives I’m against him.
Of Paul Nichols’ three runners Saphir Du Rhue and Wonderful Charm seem to have the best chances. Saphir Du Rhue is a talented horse however his career seems to have stalled and despite looking like a superstar when winning Aintree’s big staying novice chase last season this year has been a non event and I can’t back him here.
Wonderful Charm was last seen being pulled up in the Grand National and if none the worse for that is the stables first string. However he still has a bit to find to trouble the judge here so I’m against him too.
The one I like here is the Phillip Hobbs trained Menorah. The winner of the race for the past two seasons he is at his best at this time of year and has missed both Cheltenham and Aintree to be kept fresh for this.
Though he is 11 now he has shown a decent level of form so far this season and at 9/2 I make him a good bet here to see Champion Jockey Richard Johnson end the campaign on a high.
15:35 Sandown | Channel 4
The Bet365 Celebration Chase is the final Grade 1 of the domestic season and it’s a real treat for horse racing fans. A small but incredibly select field goes to post and it sees Sprinter Sacre take on Un De Sceaux in a rematch of the Champion Chase. They dominated that race but will they have it all their own way today?
Sprinter Sacre put up a fantastic performance when reclaiming his Champion Chase crown and is probably the best 2 mile chaser of my lifetime.
Since returning from his heart problems he has climbed back to the top of the 2 mile chase division and the horse and Nicky Henderson deserve so much credit for this.
However I’m worried about backing him here. He seems best fresh and after a hard race at Cheltenham I’m ponderous about siding with him. I love him and I hope he wins but I will be having a small bet on a rival here.
Un De Sceaux was ultimately disappointing at Cheltenham when favourite for the Champion Chase. After travelling powerfully he was pressed by Sprinter Sacre two out and found disappointingly little. He seems to need soft ground to really dominate and on good ground here he may be vulnerable again. He’s undoubtedly talented however I have question marks over him now and I’m opposing him again.
I’m going to take a chance on former Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy here. He was well beaten last time out by Sprinter Sacre but I have reasons to back him here.
He loves the track and is much better going right handed. His record at Sandown is fantastic and had won on his last four visits here. He wasn’t given a hard time at Cheltenham once beaten and with the stable in decent form he could well reward each way backers here with slight doubts about the top 2 in the market.
16:00 Leicester | At The Races
A 7 furlong listed race is the highlight of the Leicester card and it’s attracted a decent looking field of 11 here. There are a few Group standard horses lining up and it will throw up plenty of winners through the season but who will win this?
Here Comes When is a high class gelding who brings some of the best form on offer to this race. He ran in some good races last season including the Queen Anne and the Sussex Stakes but ultimately was disappointing and failed to gain a victory last season. He is better than he showed and has a good record fresh however he has become too frustrating for me and I’m against him.
Convey from the Sir Michael Stoute yard is an interesting runner. He won his maiden at Kempton on his sole start as a 2 year old in good fashion and was something of a talking horse after that.
However in his two starts last season he showed next to nothing but is the sort of horse his trainer excels with. I wouldn’t be backing him today however he is one to keep an eye on.
The one I like here is the Hugo Palmer trained Home of the Brave. A horse I have always been a fan of he was an impressive winner of a Curragh Group 3 last season however he was subsequently disqualified for having a banned substance found in his system afterwards.
He was disappointing on his final start however he remains a horse of real potential. He won on his seasonal debut last year and his trainer was bullish about his chances during the week. With the yard amongst the winners and conditions looking ideal for him I make him a fairly confident selection here to win this.
14:55 Sandown – Menorah to win (9/2 BetVictor)
15:35 Sandown – Sire De Grugy each way (14/1 Ladbrokes)
16:00 Leicester – Home Of The Brave to win (15/8 Stan James)
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